Sasa Kalajdzik's late gaol wasn't enough as Federico Chiesa Matteo Pessina's strikes take Italy through to quarter-finals.
Italy beat Austria 2-1 in extra time to go through to the last-8 of Euro 2020. The Azzurri, who came into the round of 16 with a perfect record and blistering form, had to go the extra yard to get the better of a resilient Austrian team. After a goalless regular time, three substitutes scored in the extra time. Federico Chiesa broke the deadlock before Matteo Pessina extended the lead for Italy. Sasa Kaladzic pulled one back for the Austrians to give Italy a scare. But in the end they held on to book a meeting with either Belgium or Portugal in the quarterfinal. (Results and fixtures)
The stats clearly indicate that Italy were the better side on the night. Roberto Mancini’s team created more chances but the Austrian’s came out with a plan and executed that to near perfection. Franco Foda’s side sat back and defended and tried to hit the opposition on the counter. And, they executed that successfully for 90 minutes. However, fresh legs and a bit more composure found the back of the net in the extra time.
Only notable change in the Italian line up was the inclusion of Marco Verratti. He came in for Locatelli in the midfield. The PSG man along with Jorginho dictated the pace of the game in the middle of the park. The first half was clearly dominated by Italy but failed to create too many clear cut chances.
Left-wing-back Leonardo Spinazzola was causing all sorts of problems for the Austrian defence with his marauding runs. The Roma player beat one defender and delivered a cut back that picked out Nicolo Barella. Barella’s first time shot with the outside of his right foot was denied by Austria goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann’s outstretched leg. It was just the start of a busy night for the Watford custodian.
Two minutes after the half-hour mark, Ciro Immobile’s long ranger hit the woodwork. A few minutes before the interval, Spinazzola’s low drive from inside the penalty box was saved by Bachmann at the near post.
After the break, Austria came out and played with a bit more intent, and they were awarded a freekick just outside the Italy area for a foul by Giovanni di Lorenzo on Christoph Baumgartner. Captain David Alaba, who had a quiet night, stepped up to take the freekick. But his attempt went agonisingly close to the crossbar. And, four minutes after the hour mark, Arnautovic headed the ball in from close range, only to be denied by the VAR for offside.
Both sides canceled each other out in the regular time and the match went to extra time. Italy came out with a bit more purpose in the extra time. As a result Chiesa broke the deadlock in the 95th minute. The Juventus player controlled the bouncing ball with his head on the right side of the penalty box. And cut inside with his right foot on the bounce before unleashing a clean half volley past Bachmann into the Austrian goal. The 23 year-old winger’s father Enrico Chiesa, who scored for Italy in the 1996 European championship would be really proud of his son.
At the end of the first half of extra time, Pessina extended the lead. Insigne cut inside from the left and delivered a pass to the near post, which fell to the path of Pessina after a goalmouth scramble. The Atalanta player smashed the ball with his left foot past Bachmann to make the score 2-0 in favour of Italy. It was the 100th goal of Euro 2020.
In response at the other end Louis Schaub unleashed a powerful low strike from outside the box, which was superbly kept out by Gianluigi Donnarumma. Seven minutes from the end of extra time, Kalajdzic got on the end of a low corner kick from the right wing and squeezed the ball past Donnarumma at the near post to pull one back for Austria. It was the first time Italy had conceded a goal in 12 matches. The last player to score against Mancini’s side was Donny van de Beek of Netherlands in a 1-1 draw in October. With the win, Mancini’s side have now set a new national record of 31 games unbeaten, breaking a record dating back to the 1930’s.